Normal and paranormal insurance

Let us take you on a journey through the history of insurance - a journey full of anecdotes

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05.Oct.2021

There was a time when no one was compensated if, for example, their home and personal effects were destroyed by fire, their vehicle was stolen, or even if they died, but luckily this is all in the past.

Throughout the history of the insurance industry there has been coverage of every kind. Many of these are conventional, such as home, car, health and life insurance, but there have been, and still are, some very unusual insurance policies that it is difficult to imagine could possibly exist.

Some well-known examples, which even so never fail to amaze, are insurance policies for body parts, known in the field of sport as special accident insurance, which many famous people have subscribed to. The figures may vary depending on the source, but the reader is sure to be familiar with cases like Jennifer Aniston’s hair, insured for €3.5 million; the hands of goalkeeper Iker Casillas for €7.5 million; the face of David Beckham for €40 million; the legs of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi for €100 and €50 million respectively; the smile of Julia Roberts for €28 million, and the thumbs of Fernando Alonso for €10 million.

But… are you covered if you’re abducted by an alien, if you are bitten by a vampire, if a meteor hits your house, if you die laughing, or if you have appendicitis on your wedding day?

Wikipedia has a dedicated entry for this type of insurance, called “niche insurance”, that is provided for small, low-demand areas of interest. According to this, the first company to offer an insurance policy for alien abductions was the St. Lawrence Agency in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and more than 30,000 policies were purchased.

Curiously, this first company had competition from the London-based firm Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson.

Around this time, the British reinsurance company Lloyd’s estimated that there were about 60,000 such policies in the United States.

Goodfellow Rebecca stopped marketing this product when 39 people from a religious group called Heaven’s Gate were found dead on March 26, 1997 after taking out insurance, coinciding with the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet.

Members of the religious group paid $1,000 on October 10 of the previous year for a policy that covered up to 50 members, which would pay out $1M per person in the event of an alien abduction, pregnancy or death.

Insurance against laughing to death?

Yes indeed. We’re already familiar with the usual life and death policies, but when it comes to death it seems that the expression goes beyond the facts, or at least, this is how it is interpreted by several film companies and movie theaters that resort to the ever-popular Lloyd’s to cover their backs in case a spectator has a fit of laughter and the consequences are fatal.

Until death do us part … or not.

Wedding insurance has been with us for several years now, covering eventualities such as cancellation due to serious illness or extreme weather events, damage to the bride’s dress or flowers, failure of a supplier, and so on.

However, things have now gone a step further to insure against “a sentimental change”, believe it or not; in other words, being jilted at the altar. This coverage also includes the expenses of psychologial treatment to help to overcome the trauma. Who are the brave insurers? The American Fireman’s Fund insurance company.

If you need more information about the world of insurance you can go to Fundación MAPFRE Documentation Center, which, for more than 30 years, has been responsible for sourcing, acquiring and selecting reliable information to make available for people looking for quality information on topics such as insurance, risk management, social security, the environment and the economy, to name the most prominent. Its motto says it all: “Committed to knowledge.”

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